Japan PM in Ottawa as Whirlwind Tour of G7 Countries Continues

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio finds himself in snowy Ottawa today for his first trip to Canada since assuming office in 2021. Kishida, fresh off a visit to the U.K., will speak with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the G7, trade, the Indo-Pacific, the Russia-Ukraine war, and more.

Kishida prioritizing G7 ties, national security

Kishida’s cabinet revised three key security and defence documents in December 2022. The revisions ushered in a new Japanese security strategy, which also pledges to double defence spending to two per cent of the country’s GDP by 2027. Canada welcomed Japan’s new security and defence outlook, with Global Affairs Canada commenting at the time that the investments “will significantly contribute to security and stability in the Indo-Pacific.”

Kishida is also keen to expand Japan’s influence within the G7 as the country gears up for its G7 presidency this year. In December, Japan entered into a venture with fellow G7 members Italy and the U.K. to build a next-generation fighter that incorporates artificial intelligence. Japan and the U.K. also inked a historic defence deal on Wednesday that will allow U.K. forces to be deployed on Japanese soil. Kishida jets off to Washington, D.C., on Friday to speak with US President Joe Biden on North Korea’s “unlawful weapons of mass destruction . . . maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” and more.  

Room for improvement in Canada-Japan relationship

Commentators have encouraged more co-operation between Canada and Japan, with one University of Toronto professor writing in The Globe and Mailthat “Japan is the ideal partner for Canada as it boosts its regional engagement.” Stuck relying on Russia for energy, Japan is shopping for more reliable sources of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and sees Canada as a promising partner. Japan has a stake in Canada's first LNG export terminal in Kitimat, B.C., which, according to the Canadian Press, is scheduled for completion by 2025.